A new video breaks down how Star Wars fans reacted to The Phantom Menace online when the movie hit theaters. The video goes on to show how each of the prequel movies were received upon their respective release dates and how that had an impact on the first installment. Before The Last Jedi, the first movie in the long awaited prequel trilogy back in 1999 was a contender for the most divisive movie in the franchise. But, it wasn't always like that.
When The Phantom Menace was released in 1999, the majority of the reviews were overwhelmingly positive amongst fans. Roger Ebert gave the movie 4/5 stars and the New Yorker also gave it a glowing review. Hardcore fans were even putting up positive reviews online before the movie even came out, which just goes to prove that everybody really, really wanted to love what George Lucas was giving us. Some reviews after The Phantom Menace came out go as far as to call Lucas a genius for the movie that he created.
Obviously, there were negative reviews from that time, but for the most part, those negative reactions were often met with people standing up for The Phantom Menace. In other words, the Star Wars negativity wasn't as rampant as it is now. One of the more interesting looks at the negative reviews brings us to some of the same criticisms that the new trilogy has. There were more than a few fans who thought that the prequels in general had a feminist spin and felt that Lucasfilm was trying too hard to pander to political correctness, which is something that is argued a lot with the new trilogy.
When looking back at The Phantom Menace, even a few years after its release, is when the overall negativity towards it begins to shine through. By the time Attack of the Clones was released, the general consensus online was that the first installment was not very good at all. Looking at the IMDb page for the movie, which has reviews that date back to the release, many of the reviews that are glowing, now have one or two star ratings, making it look like the reviewer had a change of heart and could not edit their original review.
When it comes down to it, some Star Wars fans really want the new movies to be good, so much so that their judgement might get cloudy. The need to justify a new release can sometimes get the better of a hardcore fan and the same can be said about those of which who only want the franchise to fail. That being said, it looks like Star Wars fandom is cyclical in terms of praise and negativity when looking back, which might just give Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi some positivity down the line. You can check out the excellent video looking back on The Phantom Menace below, thanks to the EckhartsLadder YouTube channel.